Brandon Cumpton had another decent outing tonight but the Pirates offense showed few signs of life and the Phillies halted the Bucs winning streak at nine with a 3-1 victory.
For his third straight start Cumpton pitched very well through five innings, accumulating the first fifteen outs without allowing a run. (Over his first three Major League starts Cumpton has now allowed a total of only two earned runs in the first five innings he's pitched, 15 innings pitched, 1.20 ERA). He was noticeably effective in inducing groundballs, getting nine groundball outs with 57% of batted balls ending up as grounders.
In the sixth the Phillies got to him, scoring three runs on four hits. (Cumpton has now faced nine hitters, allowed seven hits, and four earned runs in sixth innings.)
"I thought (he) was quick, efficient and sharp through five” Hurdle said afterwards. In the sixth “the fastball got up on him a little bit and the slider lost its angle a little bit.”
“Got in a grove early on,” Cumpton said of his outing, “third time through the lineup definitely go a lot tougher. Fell behind a little bit, left some pitches up, they put them in play and made me pay."
Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris pitched in relief and held the Phillies scoreless for final three and a third innings. The Pirates' bullpen currently has a 24 inning scoreless streak.
“We have been as good as you could ever want people to be coming in after following the starter,” Hurdle said of the work of the bullpen so far this season.
But the story tonight was the offense, or lack of one. To be sure the Pirates had their opportunities. Twice the Pirates managed to load the bases, only to have the threats extinguished with strikeouts. For the game the Pirates stranded nine base runners.
"We weren't able to meet some of the demands that were there for us tonight," the Pirates manager said of the missed opportunities.
As the trade deadline moves closer one area of growing concern was on display tonight; namely, the lack of offensive punch available to manager Clint Hurdle coming off the bench. After Gaby Sanchez, the Pirates were left with Micheal McKenry (.609 OPS), Brandon Inge (.498 OPS) and Clint Barmes (.511 OPS) as pinch hit options. With very little fire power coming off the bench Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was able to play the platoon advantage to great effect and with, presumably, little fear this evening.
Jeff Locke will square off against Jeff Lannan tomorrow night.